Casino Journal’s Casino Marketing & Technology Conference has a broad mandate for its attendees: offer core marketing education and an up-to-date perspective on how to leverage technology that promotes marketing goals. Here’s a fractionally small sampling of what four of our more than 40 speakers had to offer along those lines (session titles in parentheses):


Andrew Klebanow, senior partner, Global Market Advisors (Best Practices in Electronic Marketing): Casinos don’t seem to be able to get on board and move to electronic communications. When I ask casino operators about this, they say, ‘Our customers like the mail; they like to touch and feel their offers; put them on the refrigerator and compare them to other offers; they’re old-fashioned.’ Really? I find it perplexing that we haven’t been able to make this transition. When we look at casino player demographics they are pretty similar to other industries like retail, hotels and airlines that have gone digital, and all of our customers have a mobile phone. Do we really believe that our customers do not live in the digital world?

Mike McNamee VP of marketing, Stratosphere Casino (Branding for Underdogs):I arrived at Stratosphere in March and we immediately did a lot of partnerships. You get a halo effect when you partner with brands that your customers relate to. For instance, we signed a contract with NASCAR, because NASCAR customers are Stratosphere customers. We try to stay relevant in terms of what the customers want. You have to stay within your reach; you can’t be anything other than what you are. We’ve been successful. Our occupancy is about three or four points higher than Strip average and our ADR is running about 11 or 12 points higher.

There needs to be an internal conversation that realizes
that the numbers come second and the emotion of the
players comes first. —Nicole Barker, Raving partner

Jeanne-Marie Wilkins, chief information officer, Isle of Capri Casinos (Opening Keynote):  About eight years ago, we transformed our enterprise data warehouse solution from a passive mail production tool to an active decision-making engine. Not only did we use it for advanced detailed analytics, planning and analysis, but we created a concept for operationalizing the warehouse, to generate real-time output when certain triggers are met. The warehouse communicates directly to our operators without a gatekeeper in IT to generate reports, analyze data and then take action. Today, we make operational decisions in real-time. For example, we can notify customer experience managers when a guest, who has communicated with us through another channel, arrives on the casino floor. The notification includes the current location of the guest on the floor and details that allow us to greet this person within a few minutes of arrival and specifically follow up on the survey, or, if the communication was positive, allows us to say thank you.

Nicole Barker, Raving partner, database and loyalty marketing (Top 5 Challenges Facing Casino Marketers): In descending order: 5. Marketing methods are competing with each other: When we get backed into a corner we look at our point systems, comps, free play, and player development. What we really need to look at are the hand-offs between those programs and to aim each effectively. 4. Building loyalty programs from the numbers out: It’s one thing to become data-driven, but it’s another thing to let the engineers and the numbers guys behind the scenes make all the decisions when it comes to issues like redemption levels when it’s very likely that they’re not players themselves.

There needs to be an internal conversation that realizes that the numbers come second and the emotion of the players comes first. 3. We’re not connecting with our players with our monthly mailer: We have the unique ability to know the names and addresses of anybody who chose to create a relationship with us and we burn that opportunity when we send out these glossy mailers every month. 2. Losing trips from high-volume, low ADT customers: Probably 40 percent of the people on the floor are that mid-range ADT and we can’t leave them behind. There has to be something waiting for them in the way of benefits.  Those high-volume folks are the people who create your community and your brand. 1. Stagnation: We’ve been through the valley of death. We’ve become very lean and let technology wipe out personal interaction on the floor. We’re rebuilding player development but the numbers are still kind of flat. After coming through a very tough time, we’re used to looking at external factors. But you may be losing trips and loyalty from core customers because you forgot to market points and the core items in your basket of benefits that you got bored of selling.